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Universe Awareness presents home-made laser show in Botswana

How do you offer high-quality and interesting education with simple means? Universe Awareness of Leiden University spoke about this during the annual science festival in Botswana. With among others a laser experiment compiled of household materials, they showed the possibilities to interest young people in astronomy.

Science driven economy

From 17 to 19 April the Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BIUST) hosted the annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Festival. Leiden University’s Universe Awareness was invited to share educational resources, projects and inspirational stories with educators, entrepreneurs, students, academics and policymakers from Botswana and beyond.

This year’s festival focused on the theme: STEM driven economy: Transforming research into profitable products and services. Researchers, students, professionals and members of the public presented their projects and ideas with exhibits, seminar talks and science shows. 'BIUST will be the catalyst for moving Botswana’s resource-based economy to one that revolves around science and technology,' said Otlogetswe Totolo, Vice Chancellor of BIUST

Universe Awareness

Michael de Korte from the Astronomy & Society Group was there to represent Leiden University's Universe Awareness project. He presented several UNAWE resources to the public, like the Universe in a Box, Earth Ball and the activity book and Space Scoop astronomy news.

He also discussed the UNAWE Community, which actively exchanges experiences via website and social media. UNAWE works with low cost, high quality resources. This was demonstrated by a laser light experiment on stage using household materials, with the help of three student volunteers.

On stage demonstration of a laser experiment: bending light.

BIUST campus

The BIUST campus is located on a 2.500 hectare plot in Palapye, where the festival is also celebrated. The first phase of the campus construction started in 2012, and it already attracts many Batswana to live in Palapye nearby the university. The campus will get three additional laboratories for students to pursue their research, announced Leapotswe Bantsi, coordinator of the Pre-University Academic Programs.

BIUST students demonstrated their projects at a science fair.

Creating public awareness

Speakers from various fields were invited to create public awareness of science and technology and stimulate scientific literacy. The Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Power Corporation, Dr. Stefan Schwarzfischer, opened the festival and discussed the nearby power station’s search for local engineers. Captain Kgomotso Phatsima shared her story about becoming an industrial aviation pilot to encourage girls in pursuing careers in science and technology

Policymaker Vincent P. Rapoo from Botswana’s Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, shared the government’s views on linking science and industry by the commercialisation of science through technology. This was followed by an interesting discussion by students and others about intellectual property rights. Other topics from speakers were inventions from South Africa, rural plants for water purification, the mathematics of termites, analysing data like a scientist, educating entrepreneurs, and many others.

Academics and industrialist presented their projects at the exhibition at BIUST STEM Festival 2018.


We would like to thank BIUST for inviting Universe Awareness to participate in the BIUST STEM Festival of 2018. Special thanks to Mrs Leapotswe ‘Ma Bantsi’ Bantsi, from the Pre-University Academic Programs, for her guidance, care and organisation of this inspiring festival.


All enquiries should be addressed to:
STEM Festival Secretariat
Pre- University Academic Programmes
P/Bag 16, Palapye, Botswana
Tel: +267 493 1203/ 492 4387
Fax: +267 4900102

For more information or media enquiries contact:
Directorate of Communications & Public Affairs
Tel: +267 493 1077/493 1071 Fax: +267 4900102
E-mail: media@biust.ac.bw​​​​​​

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